Advice to the Koliyan

Koliyans were the inhabitants of the city named Koliya city existing in the Buddhas time. They are known in relation to the Buddha's life. It was the country adjacent to that of Sakyans kingdom. Koliyans had a township named Kakkarapatta.

Once the Buddha was wandering on tour in the Koliya region and stopped at the township of Koliya to help them with the Dhamma. At that time, a Koliyan householder by the name of Dighajanu approached the Buddha. Having paid homage to the Buddha, he requested the Blessed One to teach him some Dhamma thus, Venerable Sir, we are those who use flowers, scents, perfumes, gold, silver, money and all that. We are living a lay life that is burdened with duties in relation to our children. We have to provide them with nourishment and have other commitments and business as well. Thereby, we get stressed and troubled. It would be good, Venerable Sir, to teach us the Dhamma that would lead us towards welfare and happiness in this very life and life after death.

Then the Buddha addressed them thus, in order to teach the Dhamma, Vyaggapajjha, (this is the word used to address Koliyans) there are four reasons that are conducive for lay people to find welfare and happiness here and now. That is to say; endeavor, protection, good friendship and a balanced life.

Here, endeavor is that effort put forth in earning money and wealth for the advancement of your life. You may earn money either by farming and cultivation or trade or rearing cattle or working for the government and so on. Whatever you do in earning your living, you have to be an expert in it. You have to be knowledgeable of the field of business. You should not be lazy but be enthusiastic in doing your work. Deliberation and skillfulness are some of the necessary elements to attain success. When you organize businesses skillfully your economy will, no doubt, increase. It enables you and your family members to live at ease without difficulties, troubles and worries. This is a visible fact that you yourself can find in the human society. People with wisdom and endeavor come up in life while those who are lazy, experience failure and downfall.

Protection is to safeguard what you have earned and accumulated by hard work. You should know the importance of protecting wealth earned through enthusiasm and righteously working hard. The money and wealth and all that have to be protected from thieves, hostile enemies, fire, water and the natural elements such as sun and wind. The wealth has to be kept in safety so as it is not a loss to the government by way of penalty or fine as well. Having known how hard earned wealth is protected and how it gets destroyed, you should known to protect it so that the collected wealth is not lost.

Breaking the laws of the land, either deliberately or through ignorance, can result in having to pay a fine to the government. If there is a spate of robberies in the area you live in, you have to be alert and take necessary steps for the protection of your wealth.

Good friendship is to associate with good people, people who follow a spiritual path. Your life has to have a moral foundation to enjoy external achievements and success. Material success alone is not enough, there should be an association with good friends. Good friends will guide you in right and wrong. They recommend a spiritual path while practicing it. If association with a particular person leads to our welfare then that person can be regarded as a Good Friend regardless of his or her age. If you find a person with many good qualities in his life, whether elder or young, either from your own village or suburb or township, it is then good to form an association with him or her. It must also be mentioned here that it does not mean that we condemn the rest of society. The virtues of such good people, whether great or small, have to be applied and followed in your life. This isn't vain imitation without any real result but an essential element in our inner and outer development.

Next is a balanced life. It is the life that you live in accordance to your means and station in life. People's lifestyles vary greatly. Their lives are dependent on their income. Even those who work in the same field may have different knowledge and experience. Accordingly, the income they earn may also be unequal. One person may earn less income while another receives a reasonably a good wage. But the needs of both persons cannot be solved in the same manner.

Therefore, you have to know how to spend money and live an unburdened, debtless life according to the state of your income. Especially expenditure should be balanced to your revenue.

You should also know how to lead a life with nothing exceedingly luxurious nor extremely austere but should strive to live a peaceful harmonious life following the middle way. You have to be especially mindful not to have a competitive attitude in regard to lifestyles. Some people have more money and spend it lavishly. If you try to compete it may cause you to suffer.

If one tries to lead a luxurious life with his income being low and the other leads a meaningless life with his revenue being great are blameworthy. It may cause stress when one hears what is said about him. They may say that your way of living is wrong. So, it has to be said that to live a balanced life according to your wealth is praiseworthy. If one wishes to live a good life he should know how the wealth get wasted and destroyed. There are four ways that your wealth could get destroyed. That is could by

womanizing, alcoholism (drug addiction), gambling, and to live with those who do the above things. These are utterly contradictory to your wish for advancement in life.

For instance, think of this. There is a water-tank with four pipes to let water in and four pipes to let water out. Having blocked the four incoming water lines and while keeping the four out-lines open and if it does not rain as well, the tank becomes emptied within a short while and you cannot expect the water level to increase.

Likewise, the life that possesses the above said four bad reasons will face its spiritual decline and the ruin of wealth without doubt. When the outlets are off while the incoming water lines are on and if it rains considerably as well, the water level of the tank will then increase. It will definitely not decrease. In the same manner, in following the four virtuous ways of action, which are known as endeavour, protection of wealth, being with good friends and leading a balanced life, the dawn of happiness in that life is certain. How could it be otherwise?

Now, the reasons for the welfare and happiness in the life after death are to be considered. There are four factors that bring happiness to the life after death. That is to say, confidence (faith), virtue, generosity, and wisdom.

Confidence is to have faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. It does not mean to have it blindly but with the real understanding of it. Through good friendship, listening to the dhamma and discussions, faith in the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma Sangha) can be meaningfully achieved. Accordingly, the law of kamma and its effect is actually understood. To the degree that you arouse confidence in yourself, the ingenuity and energy to develop wholesome thoughts (kusala) arise to that degree. The seed for wholesome thoughts is faith (confidence), the Buddha says.

Morality is to restrain oneself from wrong doing and misconduct. One who lives a lay life can practice it as follows: Being compassionate towards animals (animate things), not to take their lives; being honest and sincere, not to take what is not given; leading a pure and righteous life, not to commit sexual misconduct; practicing truthfulness and developing skillful speech, to speak true and blameless words; by restraining from lying, not to take alcoholic drinks that lead to the lack of mindfulness and to sickness. Possessing a life with these five virtues is regarded to be a virtuous life. Then restraint and moral beauty are found in such a life.

Generosity is the next virtue. It is to practice generous offering. While living a lay life one can practice it as far as one can, according to his ability. It brings about a tremendous mental happiness. To enthusiastically engage in organizing and taking part in generous activities is praiseworthy. That happiness arising from offering (Dana) or presenting something to another is a great thing. It cannot be compared with happiness generated from sensual objects. That happiness can only be gained through such generous activities.

Wisdom quality comes next. That is to gain knowledge to see and realize the true nature of the world. That is to say; the knowledge through which one sees the arising and ceasing state of all conditional things. This is a particular wisdom that is born only through insight meditation. Because of its clarity and power, the mind clings to nothing in the world. Attachment and desire become gradually lessened and abandoned. At the moment of death, one is able to manage his mind easily and have a peaceful mind. No fear comes to him because he has by that time clearly recognized the world's true nature. It is such a powerful mental state which leads one to a blissful heavenly state.

Those are the four factors that are conditions for the welfare and happiness of the next life. Hence it is good conduct, priceless for this life and life after death.

The Buddha taught this portion of Dhamma to the Koliyan named Dighajanu and he became greatly pleased by hearing it. May those who aspire to the advancement of their lives, both mentally and materially and wish for welfare and happiness here and now and there after, bear this part of the Dhamma in the mind and endeavor to achieve it.

By Bhante Jinalankara Thero


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